‘Liquid Backbone’: Dance movie – Dance Informa Journal


Cape Ann, Maine.
Streaming through Vimeo.

Within the waning levels of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dance world – similar to the world at giant – is juggling many dynamics up within the air. Dance artists are exploring learn how to carry ahead the (in some ways compulsory) deep-dives into dance movie that they did over the previous two-plus years. Many are additionally more and more drawn to discover themes of social affect of their work — in methods which are creatively nurturing, resonant with audiences and lasting. 

Liquid Backbone, a brief environmentally-focused dance movie, confirmed a doubtlessly fairly fruitful path ahead in balancing these dynamics specifically (of the numerous that the dance world is presently juggling) – in social affect dance movie that’s each nice artwork and successfully underscores an necessary message.

For one, the work saved trustworthy human feeling at its root – but feeling that stopped in need of melodrama. For 2, it labored by a satisfying “much less is extra” ethos – permitting what it was to be sufficient, shining by way of in its personal manner. It stood for instance of how dance artwork can transfer us ahead, amidst all the challenges that we face, with honesty and coronary heart. Katie Pastuzzi contributed choreography and movie course.

The movie opens on two dancers – Keegan Scesny and Lonnie Anela O’kalani Neff Stanton – shifting collectively in water. Past them lies rocky shoreline and towering pines – all underneath cloudless, infinite sky. Generally submerged, typically rising, they undulate as fluidly because the water round them. 

Simply as creatures greater than at residence in water, but distinct from it, they’re in full concord with one another and their environment – but additionally autonomous. They embody steadiness between independence and connection. The rating, as all through the work, equally brings collectively diverging qualities, to pleasing impact; it sharpens the emotional valence at hand, but additionally leaves area for viewers to paint of their personal strains of feeling. 

A notable shift comes after they see a plastic water bottle floating towards them (combined media artwork by Rubbish Gal). They stare upon it, nearly perplexed – reflecting an innocence in the direction of the hurt in the direction of their world that it represents. On the identical time, one thing protecting arises from inside them; they push the bottle away. Then enters a very good deal extra of that threatening, if mysterious substance seemingly so alien to them: one other dancer (Meredith Worth) caught and surrounded by plastic and different remnants of human consumption. 

Worth struggles to remain afloat, her motions of swimming constrained by varied bottles and baggage entwining her limbs. One can see right here the common and timeless wrestle – and will – to outlive. A internet holds a lot of the waste on her: reminiscing ocean wildlife caught in careless human nets. She is expressionless; has she misplaced hope? Like a creature in a struggle for its life, have all features shut down aside from these which contribute to that struggle? 

Gradual-motion videography has me intrigued, as a artistic alternative. In a manner, it helps construct emotional resonance by permitting sure moments to linger – like a bell rung by way of a quiet metropolis sq..

One other chapter on this brief story begins when the three dancers step unto land. Scesny and Neff Stanton assist Worth, strolling along with her on both aspect and holding both of her arms. 

At this level, I additionally discover potential which means inside costumes. Neff Stanton and Scesny put on muted earth tones, in tunic-like attire — malleable clean slates of coloration and feeling, malleable as they’re in motion and emotion all through the work. Worth, nonetheless, wears extra coloration and definitive cuts: a pressure of extra fixed willpower and resolve because the movie progresses. 

Resolve and willpower certainly; with each mind and brawn, mind and bodily power, she frees herself from the plastic surrounding her as she stands tall and proud on the shoreline. She sheds each weight and bodily limitation. The 2 others stand by, in stillness but additionally a presence of distinct intention – performing as protectors. With a mild, but notable construct within the rating, this feels just like the type of victory (smaller or bigger, all thought-about) that brings rays of hope. There may be small victories whereas there’s nonetheless work to do. 

In unstated mutual understanding, the three movers be a part of to assault that work left to do. Whereas Neff Stanton and Scesny’s personas had been beforehand harmless onlookers, in search of understanding of one thing coming their manner that had been so very overseas to them, a brand new hearth of company appears to burn in them now. That mentioned, the performers keep away from giving off something too heavy-handed or neatly spelled-out – so viewers can’t actually know the precise nature of their ideas and emotions. That type of thriller and abstraction may be one of the vital thrilling issues about modern dance.

With that new resolve, and Worth newly free of her plastic chains, they head again into the ocean. Once more becoming a member of mind and brawn, they work collectively to assemble floating trash. Via aggregation, their efforts appear to turn out to be greater than the sum of their components. Even with their power honed on conducting a concrete activity, their motion stays harmonious and aqueous. They form shift round one another, the supplies they’re gathering and one another – like jellyfish however with bones to assist and defend the softer buildings of their bodily being.

In an impactful picture towards the tip, the three girls stroll out of the ocean with the trash that they’ve gathered. To nice impact, Pastuzzi’s videography affords a number of such resonant pictures all through the movie. They’re unified however unbiased, joined in mission and understanding but additionally ruled by nobody’s will however their very own. The digicam then pans towards the indescribably huge sky — previous sand, ocean and majestic evergreens.

Seen with sure eyes, that infinite sky might maintain hope; regardless of all that we face, are our potentialities additionally boundless? With honesty, authenticity and remembering that much less may be so, a lot extra, simply possibly they’re. Works like Liquid Backbone can shine a lightweight down such a path, a path that could possibly be simply the one we want. 

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa. 


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